Okmulgee's (BLANK) evades Fort Gibson's Clay Jenkins during football action on Friday evening at Fort Gibson.

FORT GIBSON — Fort Gibson dominated Okmulgee in every way. Except the one that counted — on the scoreboard.

Okmulgee slipped by Fort Gibson 18-17 Friday at Leo Donahue-Tiger Stadium in the District 4A-4 opener for both teams.

The Bulldogs and their fans started cheering with 1:08 left in the fourth quarter as Tiger kicker Evan McGrath’s 34-yard field goal for the win fell short in the end zone.

The Bulldogs took over at the 20-yard line and three kneel downs gave Okmulgee (1-3, 1-0) the win. Fort Gibson (0-4, 0-1) could only watch as the Bulldogs celebrated.

“I don’t know what else to say,” FGHS coach Jeff Taylor said. “We ran up and down the field on them and gave up just 52 yards rushing. They hit us with two big plays. We’ve got to learn how to win.”

Fort Gibson seemed in control of the game after a 3-yard touchdown run from quarterback Taylor Richey capped a seven-play 60 yard drive that put Fort Gibson up 17-6 with 7:06 left in the third quarter.

Richey finished the night 13 of 19 with two interceptions for 187 yards. Quinn Norman caught four of those for 75 yards.

Clay Baker added 77 yards on 22 carries and scored the Tigers first TD on a 4-yard run with 6:06 left in the second quarter putting the Tigers up 10-0

But the Tigers’ fortunates changed after Okmulgee recovered a punt that hit the Tigers’ Ben Barker who was blocking. Okmulgee used four plays to move 29 yards capped by Mike James’ 20 yard run.

James was hit and looked like he would be stopped for no gain, but bounced outside and raced into the end zone pulling the Bulldogs to 17-12 heading into the fourth quarter.

James was responsible for the first Bulldog score when he hit Kevin Wilson with a 70-yard TD pass in the second quarter cutting the FGHS lead to 10-6.

The duo again set up the final score when James hit Wilson again on the halfback toss down to the Fort Gibson 6. James then scored on the next play with 6:59 left.

The Bulldogs’ final drive was set up by Rico Ivy’s second interception of the night. He had another on in the first half, stopping a Fort Gibson drive.

“It’s the same thing, we keep shooting ourselves in the foot,” Taylor said. “If we can eliminate the mistakes we can be a pretty good football team.”

Fort Gibson was penalized 10 times for 80 yards. But the biggest one came in the fourth quarter with 1:50 left to play. The Tigers had driven from their 23 yard line down inside the Okmulgee 10 yard line.

On second-and-goal, Cody Hubbard broke outside and had scored what would’ve been the winning touchdown. But the Tigers were called for an illegal block in the back at the 2-yard line and wiped out the TD.

Instead of having six points on the board, the Tigers then went to third down and goal. But Richey’s pass for Quinn Norman was incomplete, forcing the Tigers to settle for a field goal attempt.

McGrath hit a 36-yarder in the first quarter giving FGHS a 3-0 lead. But this one was off the mark.

“We have to capitalize on our opportunities,” Taylor said. “Okmulgee did.”

Fort Gibson ran for 150 yards on 39 carries and added 187 more yards through the air. The Tiger defense held Okmulgee to 52 yards rushing but gave up too long pass plays that totaled 114 yards.

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